Music legend and hip-hop icon 50 Cent looks to impact boxing in a big way.
Will Curtis James Jackson III, better known by his stage name 50 Cent, become boxing's newest Don King or Bob Arum... or someone ever bigger?
Fiddy's recently formed TMT (The Money Team) Promotions is off to a fabulous start having acquired several big names such as phenom and two
division world champion Yuriorkis Gamboa (21-0, 16 KO), former super middleweight titleholder Andre Dirrell (20-1, 14 KO), IBF Featherweight Champion Billy Dib (35-1, 21 KO), five time world champion and current welterweight contender Zab Judah (42-7, 29 KO) and WBA Featherweight Champion Celestino Caballero (36-4, 23 KO).
The 37 year old legendary rap mogul, extremely popular in the 18 to 35 year old demographic, is committed to expanding boxing's visibility and reach worldwide.
"We want to change boxing," 50 Cent said during a recent interview.
"The goal initially is to create a company by fighters, for the fighters, which breaks the traditional vibe of promoters taking advantage of fighters. ... We're going to change the demographic also, appeal to the younger demographic. ... You look at UFC and MMA, when their festivities start the place is full, whereas the tradition in boxing is you wait until the main event starts."
"We want to put on cards where there are five main event fights, where there is entertainment from start to finish, cards that command attention all over the world."
Many fight insiders, both boxing and MMA, would agree with 50 Cent's comment as it relates to high-profile pay-per-view boxing cards. The undercards usually fail to excite the casual fan and, as a result, viewers' energy and enthusiasm is reserved for the main event, which isn't always a hit.
The Floyd Mayweather vs Miguel Cotto fight card on May 5th, which also showcased Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez vs Shane Mosley, is one of the few boxing cards in recent years that featured more than one bout capable of generating widespread mainstream appeal.
Thus far, Cuban-born Yuriorkis Gamboa appears to be the most promising of Fiddy's client recruits. The 30 year old featherweight, who is a veteran of over 250 amateur bouts, is a former 2004 Olympic gold medalist and former WBA and IBF Featherweight Champion.
Gamboa defected to the United States after sneaking out of Venezuela while training. He found temporary refuge in neighboring Colombia and eventually fled to Germany where he received a visa to enter the United States.
Ranked No. 15 on FightSaga's Fab 15 Pound-for-Pound List, Yuriorkis Gamboa, now residing in Miami, FL, is supremely skilled, possess tremendous punching power and is credited with having one of the quickest pair of hands in the game.
Video: Yuriorkis Gamboa ULTIMATE Highlights HD
Boxing champion Jorge Solis (40-3-2, 29 KO's), who fell victim to Gamboa last year, said of the Cuban, "Pacquiao doesn't hit that hard. He throws a lot of punches, but he doesn't hit that hard. Gamboa hits very hard."
Boxing legend and future Hall of Famer Roy Jones Jr, commenting for HBO that night added:
"It was very impressive tonight to hear Solis say that Gamboa punches harder than Pacquiao. That's saying an awful lot for this guy. He's only 20 fights in and he's already punching harder than Pacquiao as a featherweight? That can be pretty tough for the division."
Leonard Ellerbe, CEO of his Mayweather Promotions, told ESPN last week, "I think that Floyd and 50 coming together is great for boxing. You have two smart guys and when great minds work together, you can have nothing but great results."
Ellerbe also stated Mayweather has a stake in TMT Promotions, adding, "They're forming a joint venture and this is great for boxing. You got two young men who are in their prime and they both have great vision."
And via Twitter last week, Fiddy himself hinted the boxing phenom may soon be added to the rap star's growing list of clients. In a threatening tweet to Oscar De La Hoya, Fiddy wrote:
"I don't gamble, Floyd do, but I bet you [that] you won't be promoting Floyd Mayweather no more. TMT PROMOTIONS."
De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions has played a role in promoting Floyd Mayweather's last six bouts. However, the fighter's contractual obligations to and status with Golden Boy Promotions are not fully known.
Courtesy of HBO Sports
Earlier this month, Floyd Mayweather (43-0, 26 KO) won his fourth ESPY "Best Fighter" Award in only its sixth year since its inception, besting Andre Ward and UFC's Jon Jones and Anderson Silva.
The boxing phenom, who defeated future Hall of Famer Miguel Cotto in May, was also recently placed atop Forbes annual list of the 100 highest-paid athletes, ending Tiger Woods' 10 year streak in the top spot.
A Paradigm Shift?
Despite 50 Cent's credentials as music star, boxing promotion is very difficult and setbacks usually far exceed accomplishments early on. However, Fiddy is no quitter. In the spring of 2000, he was shot in the face, hand and legs by a man with a nine millimeter at close range. He survived a total of nine bullets and went on to become a top rapper as well as an entrepreneur, record producer and actor.
Given 50 Cent's international acclaim, deep pockets and close relationship with Floyd Mayweather, the rap music icon presents a formidable threat to other top promoters such as Bob Arum, Oscar De La Hoya, Frank Warren and Lou DiBella.
If he's savvy, innovative and exercises patience, the legendary rap mogul could have a tremendous positive impact on the sport and become immensely successful.
Will 50 Cent's foray into boxing initiate a paradigm shift from the traditional, and perhaps antiquated, concepts of boxing marketing and promotion employed today?
50 Cent, who rose to prominence with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and The Massacre (2005), is also anxiously anticipating his upcoming 5th studio project Street King Immortal. The LP is expected to arrive November 13 via Interscope and Shady/Aftermath Records.
Sit tight. One way or another, things are about to get really interesting in the colorful world of professional boxing.
50 Cent Facts
- Fiddy has a tattoo of "Marquise" with an axe on his right biceps. "The axe is 'cause I'm a warrior. I don't want him to be one, though,"he explains. He also has "50", "Southside", and "Cold World" inscribed on his back because "I'm a product of that environment. It's on my back, though, so it's all behind me."
- He rose to fame with the release of his albums Get Rich or Die Tryin' (2003) and The Massacre (2005). His album Get Rich or Die Tryin' has been certified eight times platinum by the RIAA.
- After releasing his album Guess Who's Back? in 2002, Jackson was discovered by rapper Eminem and signed to Interscope Records. With the help of Eminem and Dr. Dre, who produced his first major commercial successes, Jackson became one of the world's highest selling rappers.
- 50 Cent has engaged in feuds with other rappers including Ja Rule, Nas, Fat Joe, Jadakiss, Cam'ron, Puff Daddy, Rick Ross, and former G-Unit members The Game and Young Buck.
50 Cent facts source - Wikipedia